Continuing my tour of little Derbyshire villages today I shall look at one a little large than Alsop-en-le – Dale and Tissington that was once famous for its Stilton cheese.
Hartington is also a village just off the Ashbourne- Buxton A5151 road . Hartington was once a thriving market centre in the Middle Ages and was granted its market charter in 1203. It has been many years since there has been a market in the village square though.
According to historians the name Hartington come from the Old English for either 'Stags' hill' or 'hill connected with Heorta' which means heart or hart presumably. There must have been more deer around back in those days. Hartington like many local villages gets a mention in the Domesday saying it was part of the Henry de Ferrers estate and was then worth forty shillings.
One of Hartington’s most famous residents was Charles Cotton who was born at Beresford Hall near to the village. In the village square there is a pub bearing his name. Charles Cotton is the person who introduced Isaac Walton to the Peak District and together they wrote `The Complete Angler` together which is a very famous fisherman’s ‘how to’ book. More famous than the one which became known by that annoying advert called "Fly Fishing’ by J.R. Hartley!! Isaac Walton has a hotel named after him not so far from here closer to Dovedale. I have to admit neither book grabs me but fishing is something I have no interest at all in finding out more about.
Hartington Hall was originally a Tudor manor house but is now a youth hostel It was built by Robert Bateman in 1611 and Bonnie Prince Charlie is supposed to have stayed there in 1745. We are never too sure of these claims as so many places in Derbyshire claim to have offered him a night’s stay including our own village. He must have had a very busy time on his travels. The Hall today it is one of the most popular youth hostels in Derbyshire and has thousands of guests every year.
In the hostel there is a restaurant and a bar which are open to everyone not only guest of the hostel and it is very good priding itself in serving locally sourced produce. The bar sells, some from the Leatherbritches Brewery in Fenny Bentley and others from Whim Ales in Hartington.
The small micro brewery Whim Ales has been brewing real ale for the last 12 years. Its beers include Hartington Bitter, Hartington IPA which my husband highly recommends, and Arbor Light (named after Arbor Low, the stone circle nearby). The brewery’s ales are also sold in the Hartington pubs, the Charles Cotton and the Devonshire Arms.
The little church known as St Giles dates back to the 13th century, is just near the old market square. The tower has sort of castle battlements on the top and is a 15th century addition built of red sandstone. The tower has a clock and three bells. There is also an unusual double-storeyed porch which was added in the Middle Ages. The church also boasts some rather ugly looking gargoyles some even have their leaded downspouts.
Inside there is a window with five lights or segments its south transept behind the altar. Another unusual thing to see in the church are the medieval wall paintings which show the 12 tribes of Israel. Even stranger is the effigy of a lady which some think is Margaret de Ferrers dating from1224. This was found during building work in 1858 and gives the impression that the lady is in her coffin with only head and feet exposed; all very strange in my opinion.
Because Hartington is a bit bigger than other Peak District villages it has an air of wealth and there are also a couple of other gift, souvenir and craft shops including a small pottery and a tea room to sit and enjoy a cake and a cuppa if you can get in there. It does get very busy at week ends especially in summer which is when we avoid visiting and think how I would hate to live in the village at these times.
For many years there was a small cheese factory in Hartington famous for its Stilton cheese and it also made a lovely creamy blue cheese known as Dovedale Blue which is one of my favourites. It closed down a couple of year ago which was disappointing. Hartington Creamery was in Hartington since the 1870's, it became famous for Stilton after Thomas Nuttall of Beeby in Leicestershire took over in 1900. He moved here to escape an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the Vale of Belvoir, the traditional home of Stilton.
I understand a cheese factory was supposed to re- open under a new management in 2012 but have not been to check this out. Before the closure this little factory produced 25% of all Stilton cheese sold as it was one of only three areas permitted to make authentic Stilton cheese under license. The cheese shop remained open selling local cheeses but for a short while none were made in the village, hopefully they are again now.
Hartington is one of the Peak villages that take part in the Well Dressing celebrations and they have two wells that are decorated. This next year 2013 their Well Dressing dates are September 14 to September 22, 2013. The main well is on the green near the village pond and the second well is the School Well next to the War Memorial.
Hartington was quite a thriving community with its cheese factory, mining of ironstone, limestone and lead, and today the only evidence of the lead mining are the shelterbelts of trees seen across the landscape which were planted along the old lead workings, where dangerous shafts and poisoned ground made the land unsuitable for planting any crops. The main industry of the village is tourism these days and that seems to be thriving judging by the crowds on Summer weekends.
Like Alsop-en-le-Dale and Tissington, Hartington was on the former Ashbourne to Buxton railway line which is now the cycle/riding/walking tack known as the Tissington trail. The old railway station which is about a mile and half from the village is now a picnic area with toilet facilities and an information centre in the old signal box which was kept after the National Parks Authority bought the Ashbourne to Buxton railway in 1968.
Hartington is one of the bigger villages in the Peak District and has a few shops, places to eat and plenty of interesting houses to look at if you walk around the village. There is a car park along the Warslow Road with public toilets opposite, next to Rooke's Pottery. You can park along some of the lanes in the village but residents obviously prefer it is you use the car park.
A lovely village to visit if you are in the local area for a morning, lunch or even stay in one of the hostels or B&Bs or rental cottages and explore more of the beautiful countryside around here.